Summary: Dysfunction of the immune system in aged individuals includes at least two important factors: accumulation of immunocytes with reduced function and accumulation of lymphocyte clones with self-reactive potential. Coincidently, there is a profound reduction of the germinal center reaction in the aged. While this reduction is likely the result of age-associated impairment in lymphocyte function (e.g. diminished response to costimulus, altered lymphokine production etc.). the reduction of germinal centers may itself make an important contribution to further immunological dysfunction.